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Still no trial in 2010 killing

Tony Holt Hernando Today
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 05:55 PM

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It's been two years, two months and three weeks since Sean Eckard's body was found under a pile of loose dirt.

His accused killer, older brother Stanley Eckard, is still awaiting trial.

His pretrial hearing scheduled for earlier in the week was continued until Oct. 4.

He remains the only 2010 murder defendant who either hasn't been convicted or doesn't have a scheduled trial date. There were nine total who were charged with either second- or first-degree murder.

"The defense requested some additional materials to be tested for DNA," said prosecutor Pete Magrino. "That's what has prompted the delay … I'm hopeful the results will be back by (Oct. 4)."

Based on reports from the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, the suspect burst into Sean's bedroom the morning of June 19, 2010.

The two fought, and Stanley wrapped a cord around Sean's neck, detectives said.

During his interview, Stanley said he heard his brother's neck crack. Sean stopped breathing and his body went limp.

Stanley, now 23, told detectives he never intended to kill Sean, according to reports.

Investigators said Stanley had long been jealous of his younger brother. Stanley felt as though the family liked Sean the most. To add to the tension, Stanley had a crush on the girl Sean was dating. Stanley felt his brother was taunting him whenever the relationship was mentioned, detectives said.

Soon after Sean's death, Stanley took his brother's phone and started sending messages. Posing as Sean, the suspect texted the girl and told her he was breaking up with her, according to sheriff's office reports.

Stanley also texted his mother, Donna. Almost immediately she sensed something was wrong. Sean always called his mother "mama," but on this particular morning the texts contained the word "mom," detectives said.

When she went to church that Sunday morning, Donna saw Stanley in the backyard with "unknown items," according to reports.

Stanley told her he was burying things that had belonged to his ex. More time went by and Donna grew more worried about Sean, whom she hadn't seen since Saturday.

Stanley's father confronted him June 20. The father then grabbed a shovel, started digging and uncovered his youngest son's body.

A female relative called 911 hysterical. The operator couldn't understand her and kept interrupting.

"My brother, Stanley Elias Eckard, killed my … He killed my other brother and buried him," the female said.

The operator asked the caller how she knew the buried body was her brother's.

"My dad is laying over the body," she answered. "We just dug up the dirt …"

Magrino said there had been discussions about a plea agreement, but the Eckard family was asking for too much leniency from the state.

"I'm always willing to listen," said Magrino. "Is the case possibly resolvable short of a trial? I'd say it is, but what the parents have expressed … that's not going to happen.

"We're not talking about a grand theft case," he said. "We're talking about a first-degree homicide."

In other court news:

Miles was charged with first-degree murder following the death of Henry McCain, who was struck by the defendant's pickup as it traveled north along U.S. 19 through the County Line Road intersection, authorities said.

Troopers with the Florida Highway Patrol said Miles crashed into McCain while traveling at about 100 mph.

Minutes earlier, Miles had dragged a Pasco Sheriff's deputy across the highway as she escaped her DUI arrest, according to reports.

The deputy was injured but survived.

A high-speed chase continued several miles through Hudson before Miles struck McCain with her truck, authorities said.

Miles' vehicle ran off the road near Spring Hill Drive and she was apprehended.

For her alleged role in injuring the Pasco deputy, Miles was charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. Her trial for that charge was originally scheduled to begin Monday in Pasco, but it was continued until Nov. 5.

In both cases, she faces a life sentence if convicted.

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